Fertility and conception expert Dr. Amos Grunebaum sees many couples experiencing difficulty getting pregnant. Knight suggests there might be some simple fixes to easy problems, especially for a healthy couple between ages 18 and 34. His description of the human species - “not as fertile as we like to think” - may offer comfort to some wannabe parents but old wives’ tales and common myths might be getting in the way of success.
Myth #1: Sex at ovulation increases the chance of conception
Dr. Amos says don’t wait that long. The egg is viable only about 24 hours after ovulation so waiting for ovulation signs and reading charts may mean missing this month’s window of opportunity. Instead, have sex two to three times a week, especially a week before ovulation. Sperm lives in a woman’s reproductive tract for several days after ejaculation so frequent sex before ovulation means there will be an army of sperm at the ready when ovulation occurs.
Myth #2: Schedule sex
Don’t be ruled by a calendar. Instead, relax and make love every day. And consider relaxation training and reducing stress in all areas of life. Women who are stressed out and obsessed about getting pregnant release stress hormones that hinder conception. Knight encourages his patients to “think about making love, not about making babies.”
Myth #3: Position matters
Sex position doesn’t really matter so much. A common belief is the chance of conception increases if the woman remains lying on her back for a while after intercourse; this position is said to allow more sperm to enter the neck of the uterus. Dr. Amos says plenty of sperm is already there, no matter the position or length of time in position. All it takes is one sperm and there are bazillions of them released with each ejaculation.
Myth #4: Save sperm for the “right’ moment
Avoiding sex to save sperm can be counter-productive. The male body makes fresh sperm every day. As sperm ages, its quality deteriorates. Old sperm may actually interfere with the production of newer, healthier sperm.
Myth #5: Lubricant helps sperm get where it needs to go
Many lubricants alter vaginal pH in ways that might actually get in the way of sperm motility. Instead of helping sperm slip and slide its way to the sweet spot, it gets in the way and reduces the odds of conception. If lubricant is needed for comfort, avoid petroleum jelly, which can damage healthy sperm. Pre-seed is lubricant which has been tested and does not interfere with sperm motility. Natural products like olive oil and coconut oil are also healthier alternatives.
Myth #6: Female orgasm is required
Female orgasm is nice but not required. Stress, keeping up with charts, ovulation schedules, and other concerns of planned conception can make relaxation during sex impossible. The more stress, the less the chance of orgasm but the chance of conception remains the same.
Myth #7: Failure to conceive equals failure as a person
Dr. Amos suggests looking at infertility as the medical condition that it is, just like asthma and arthritis, and not as a reflection of the character or sexuality of the person. A healthy lifestyle encourages conception just as it encourages success in everyday living. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid negative habits such as excessive drinking and smoking to ensure optimum success in every aspect of life, including conception.
A woman’s chance of becoming pregnant is only about 25 percent each month, even for the healthiest of couples. Dr. Amos urges his patients to forget about monitoring ovulation, charts, and graphs and enjoy sex for the fun of it more often, especially the week before ovulation is expected. Stress, illness, and other life situations can alter the menstrual cycle, including ovulation, so relying on it happening at exactly the same time each month might mean missed opportunities. Focus instead on relaxation, stress reduction, and enjoying sex as often as possible. The more it happens, the more likely a successful outcome.